The Milky Way from Dartmoor

July 21, 2018

We recently went away for a week to a little village in the southwest of England called Doddiscombsleigh. While the sky isn't perfectly dark there, it is the darkest I've seen in a while and the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye so I decided to have another go at photographing it.

Without having access to Lightroom or Photoshop I wasn't sure how I was going to process these images, so I mainly aimed to try and get a good photo straight out of the camera, but I did take around 19 RAW exposures of the same spot just in case. After a bit of research on how to stack exposures for free, I came across DeepSkyStacker and figured I could do the rest with GIMP.

I'm glad I did, because I've finally managed to get a picture of the Milky Way I'm fairly happy with:

I'm keen to try this again, armed with the knowledge that I can get decent results from free tools. Next time I need to take more exposures (I think at least 30), and I'll also try taking some dark frames. These are images that are taken at the same time and with the same settings as the real exposures, but with the lens cap on. Apparently the stacking software I use can use those to remove even more noise from the final image.